Loviatar, Mother of Diseases

The blind daughter of Tuoni,
Old and wicked witch, Lowyatar,
Worst of all the Death-land women,
Ugliest of Mana’s children,
Source of all the host of evils,
All the ills and plagues of Northland,
Black in heart, and soul, and visage,
Evil genius of Lappala,
Made her couch along the wayside,
On the fields of sin and sorrow;
Turned her back upon the East-wind,
To the source of stormy weather,
To the chilling winds of morning.
When the winds arose at evening,
Heavy-laden grew Lowyatar,
Through the east-wind’s impregnation,
On the sand-plains, vast and barren.
Kalevala

Loviatar of the Northland is the mother of diseases, beasts and witches. She is depicted sometimes as Louhi or Mistress of Pohjola, the ruler of Northland, a powerful witch, and sometimes more like a supernatural being, a nature elf; wife of nature, solid wife; beautiful wife; nature-wife, old wife, strong wife.

Loviatar lays on the ground and the north wind impregnates her. After a long and painful preganncy she gives birth on a rock in the water.

She gives birth to boys, usually nine of them, called “evil foetuses”, “nasty children” and name them diseases: gout, scab, colic, tooth worm, injection, ammunition, abscess, tooth pain, pox, fever, rigors, pain.

She also gave birth to a tenth son, found no name for him, and tossed him into the river. Often the tenth child is mentioned to be a girl, from whom originated witches.

Loviatar has also given birth to the wolf, bear and lynx. Also frogs, dogs, frost and nightmares are children of Loviatar.

 

The diseases can lurk in the water, the soil, or fly with winds, enter the body and start eating, biting, stinging. It takes a wizard to banish them back to where they came from.

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